Religion can be a comfort to those in need of it, but in the wrong hands, it can also be a tool of fear, control, or abuse. So when u/thecyriousone asked the AskReddit community, "People who grew up with extremely religious parents, what were some dumb things they claimed were 'sins?'" people responded with all kinds of stories of how authority figures in their lives tried to control them through religion.
Here are some of the most upvoted stories:
1. "I wasn’t allowed to watch He-Man because 'he says 'I have the power' and only God has the power.'"
2. "I got my Pokémon games and cards taken away after my parents found out that Pokémon evolve. They didn’t want me to grow up believing in evolution."
3. "If you thought about sinning, you may as well have done it. So I would, for example, get punished and have to beg forgiveness just because I looked at the cookie jar after I had been told I couldn’t have one. They could decide at random what they were convinced was going on in my head."
4. "Coming home to find my Pikachu stuffed animal's ears cut off to 1/3 length and sewed at the new ends since the old ears were too long and were basically the devil's horns. I'm agnostic now..."
5. "Listening to secular music. I found an alarm clock that played radio stations and my brother and I would trade off nights sleeping with it under our pillows, so we could listen to the latest grunge music. Also, Halloween was a sin and we had to sit in the house with the lights off."
6. "I didn't grow up with religious parents, but living in the South, all my friends' parents were. I remember being around 10 years old and was eating breakfast after spending the night at a friend's place. We started talking about Harry Potter and his mom fucking loses it, saying that magic is Satan's work and to not talk about that evil stuff in her house. Even at 10 I was like, 'Man, that's weird.'"
7. "When I was reading The Hunger Games in middle school, I described a scene where the main characters were attacked by dogs that looked like their fallen competitors (idk if that was it, it was pretty wild and it's been at least 10 years since I've read it). My mom frowned and said 'That goes against everything we believe in.' To this day I have no idea what she meant."
8. "I grew up being told that science/scientists were wrong [and] that I shouldn't listen to anything they said."
10. "This is my favourite one as of recently. My dad is the religious one, not my mum for reference. For Halloween, my mum found my cat's favourite cat treats just relabeled as 'Tasty Human' and discounted for Halloween. My mum, rightfully so, thought this was hilarious and bought some. After all, it was exactly what she was looking for half off, and in season, so why the hell not? My dad saw it and immediately started saying how sinful those cat treats are, and how we are worshipping the devil. Jfc."
11. "Watching people kiss on the TV. My mom would often claim that crows would eat my eyes in hell."
12. "Meditating or pretending to meditate. The Lion King just came out and someone pretended to be Rafiki meditating. We all got a real big lecture on the evils of meditating and/or pretending to meditate. But what really is strange to me, though, is that the Bible actually says to meditate."
14. "Worrying. Mom swore worrying meant you didn't trust God. Great thing to say to a kid with an anxiety disorder."
15. "A microscope. An acquaintance of mine called a microscope a 'gift from the devil' because it makes people question the divine plan."
16. "Rocks. I’m a rock hound, and collect rocks, gems, and stones. The link between crystals and spirituality has gotten me called a devil worshipper…for liking rocks. I don’t even use them spiritually, I just like shiny shit."
17. "So many things, but this one’s my favorite. Ready? Paleontologists. The idea is that the dinosaurs never actually existed and paleontologists just plant the fossils and bones to steer people away from 'The Truth.' Clearly the work of the devil! Eek! My eyes rolled so far back in my head they almost got stuck."
18. "Not me but in middle school my friend had religious parents that helped run a church. One day we were talking about super heroes and I asked him what his favourite super hero was or something like that. He then told me he wasn’t allowed to watch superhero movies because 'god is the only hero.'"
19. "A friend's wife once got into some religious thing where anything of beauty was satanic. Flowers, scenery, anything beautiful. Satan was luring you with its beauty."
20. "My dad wouldn't let me watch anything that had magic or monsters because he thought it would let demons into the house. This included Power Rangers, Ben 10, H20: Just Add Water, Harry Potter, Scooby Doo, and more. The most ridiculous one was not letting me watch Jessie on Disney channel. This had no magic or monsters but he thought that the pet lizard one of the characters had represented the snake that deceived Eve into eating the apple."
21. "My sister was refused communion in front of the whole congregation because of her tongue ring. When she stepped up to receive it, the priest held the chalice away from her, 'protected' it with his other hand, and announced that she couldn't receive communion because 'piercing is a satanic practice'...
"We had attended that church every Sunday for our entire lives, my father went for 30 years before we were born. Mom, sis, and I were in choir, my mom taught Sunday school and my dad volunteered by selling coffee and donuts after church every Sunday for as long as I can remember. It wasn't a mega-church either, everyone knew everyone. It wasn't even a super conservative church. Every woman had pierced ears, of course, but also the church banquet hall was still decorated for the Halloween party/haunted house they had the Friday before. You'd think if he was concerned for her soul he would have shown a little more tact and quietly asked to speak with her after the service. Nope. We walked out that day and never went back. :)"
22. "I wasn’t allowed to say 'for Pete’s sake' because Peter in the Bible was a disciple and although it wasn’t as bad as saying 'oh my god,' it was up there."
23. "I got a Rambo play set when I was like 8 years old. It contained a realistic looking Bowie knife and a green Buddha pendant to put around your neck. My grandfather said the Buddha was filled with evil spirits and he made me throw it in a fire. The realistic looking murder knife, however, was totally fine."
24. "Wearing leggings. She said I looked like a slut in them. Also said that about me wearing Spandex to play volleyball."
25. "Arguing back with my father. Apparently my grandmother — why her of all people I will never understand — thought I was going to go straight to hell because I was not 'honoring' my parents."
26. "One time my wife’s cousin was watching Seinfeld. Their grandma, bless her heart, comes into the room, sees Seinfeld on the tv and says, 'Turn this off right now. How could you watch this pornography?!'"
Do you have a story of religious parents or other authority figures telling you something silly and harmless was a "sin"? Tell us about it in the comments!
Submissions may have been edited for length or clarity.